Leftover Beef Ragu

Got lots of Roast Beef left from Sunday Lunch? This Leftover Beef Ragu is the perfect way to use it up. Gorgeous chunks of super tender beef in a delicious tomato sauce.

Serve with your favourite pasta for a tasty midweek family dinner.

Sunday roast dinner is one of my favourite parts of the week. There’s something so wonderful about a simple meal of roast meat with vegetables and potatoes.

Nothing fancy, but delicious, filling and just a really nice time to all sit together.

Of course, we’re all currently spending a lot more time together than usual, but still, there’s something special about this big meal, and it’s a tradition that we try to stick to.

A Sunday roast also gives you an excellent opportunity to cook something really tasty on Monday night.

Whenever we have roast beef, we’re always left with tons of meat that needs eating up.

It would be easy to slice it nice and thin and use it for sandwiches, but I love putting this already tender meat into other dishes, and find that chunks of beef work well in many of our favourites, substituted for ground beef.

This Leftover Beef Ragu is gorgeous.

It’s a rich tomato sauce, absolutely packed with vegetables and big chunks of slow-cooked beef.

It’s chunky enough that you could easily fill up just eating it alone, but served on a bowl of pasta, Leftover Beef Ragu is perfect!

Roast beef pasta is probably a combination of two of my favourite things, so it was always going to be a win.

I tend to add a little parmesan to the top because everything is better with cheese!

What is the Difference Between Ragu and Bolognese?

Close up of leftover beef Ragu in large ovenproof dish, on table.

I’m nowhere near an authentic Italian cook. I’m a family cook. I make yummy, homely meals that are all a bit massive and very filling.

To me, Ragu and Bolognese are pretty much the same.

Traditional Italian meat-based dishes with tomato sauce served with pasta.

I tried to do some research when deciding whether this recipe was most like a Beef Ragu or a Bolognese, but found so much conflicting information about the differences and which ingredients should be used.

I ended my research more confused than ever.

Ovenproof dish filled with leftover beef Ragu. Empty bowls to bottom of shot, bowl of pasta to top.

Most sources though claim that Ragu is an umbrella term for a few different kinds of meat-based pasta sauces.

So, I’ve gone with Ragu, figuring that this means that I’m less likely to be wrong.

This is a nice meal and a great way to use up leftover beef, but absolutely not authentic.

If that’s what you are looking for, move on now! I like to think of it as Italian Inspired cooking.

Using Chunks of Beef in Ragu

Beef Ragu in large ovenproof cooking dish. Bowl of tagliatelle to side. Block of parmesan at bottom.

I’d usually cook pasta dishes like this with minced or ground beef.

I’m sure most of you make a good old spag Bol with mince. It’s easy to cook with, and the texture is perfect.

But this is a Leftover Beef Ragu.

It’s so easy to chop your Leftover Roast Beef into small chunks and leave them in a sealed tub or covered in the fridge to throw in a Leftover Beef Ragu the day after.

Because the beef has already been cooked and is then slow-cooked in a rich tomato sauce, it’s wonderfully soft and tender, making this a gorgeous meal in its own right.

What is a Soffritto?

Served Beef Ragu in white pasta bowl with tagliatelle.

Soffritto is the base of many Italian, and indeed Italian-Inspired meals.

You probably already use it as a foundation, even if you don’t know the name.

Soffritto is the Italian term for onions, carrots, and celery diced finely and fried in a little oil or butter until they are soft and golden.

This then forms the base of pasta dishes, like Beef Ragu, soups, stews and other meals. It’s the simple foundation that many meals grow from.

A popular option is cooking a large batch of Soffritto, and storing it in the fridge for a few days.

You can use this simple mix as a base for other meals, or even throw some into an omelette or scrambled eggs for a quick and tasty lunch.

The problem is, I really really hate celery. Even diced small and mixed up with other ingredients, it’s all I can taste.

There aren’t many things that I don’t enjoy, but celery is a big no.

So, the base for my Leftover Beef Ragu is onions, carrots and garlic, in a little oil, with salt and pepper.

Please add celery if you don’t absolutely despise it.

Beef Ragu in large serving dish at top of shop, parmesan to side, served pasta with Ragu leaving shot.

How Do I Thicken Beef Ragu?

The thing with a pasta sauce is that your sauce needs to cover your beef and veg to cook it well, but it also needs to be thick enough to sit on your pasta instead of just sliding down to the bottom of your bowl.

I find that slowly simmering this Leftover Beef Ragu over 2 hours gives it a chance to thicken on its own, with just the addition of tomato puree or tomato paste to help it along.

If after the 2 hours, your sauce is still more watery than you would like, stir through a little more tomato puree, or add a tbsp of cornflour, stirring well and simmering until any lumps have dissolved.

Close up of fork of Ragu, serving bowl blurred in background.

How Long Should You Cook Leftover Beef Ragu?

As long as you can! The beef is already cooked and so safe to eat as soon as it is heated back up.

But the longer you cook your Beef Ragu, the richer the flavour and the softer the beef and veg.

I give mine at least 2 hours, but longer certainly wouldn’t hurt.

What Pasta Should You Serve with Beef Ragu?

2 bowls of served Ragu with pasta, serving bowl in centre.

I love Tagliatelle or Pappardelle. Do you have a favourite pasta? Use that!

If you don’t like pasta, you could use this Leftover Beef Ragu to top a jacket potato, or even on its own with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Can You Make Beef Ragu in a Slow Cooker?

You can absolutely make this Beef Ragu in your slow cooker. Throw the ingredients in and set your timer.

You may want to fry your onions, garlic and carrots before adding them to the slow cooker, and you might need to reduce the liquid, as slow cookers trap the steam so that it won’t reduce in the same way.

How Long Will Beef Ragu Last?

I try not to reheat meat more than once. So I don’t advise keeping any ragu that you don’t eat.

If you’ve got lots of beef left, and it’s going to be way too much, I’d freeze some before cooking it again to use in another recipe.

served beef Ragu in bowl with pasta, large ovenproof dish to side, parmesan above.

Can You Freeze Leftover Beef Ragu?

I only recommend reheating meat once.

So while I might freeze leftover beef to make ragu another day, I wouldn’t make and then freeze ragu.

Other Leftover Beef Recipes

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Leftover roast Beef Ragu in cast iron dish, next to served portion in bowl

Leftover Beef Ragu

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4.5 from 25 reviews

  • Author: Donna
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 People 1x
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Got lots of Roast Beef left from Sunday Lunch? This Leftover Beef Ragu is the perfect way to use it up. Gorgeous chunks of super tender beef in a delicious tomato sauce. Serve with your favourite pasta for a tasty mid-week family dinner.


Units Scale
  • 1 tablespoon Cooking oil
  • 650 g Leftover Roast Beef (Chopped into 1cm chunks)
  • 1 Red Onion (Finely diced)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic (Crushed)
  • 2 Large Carrots (Peeled and finely diced)
  • Pinch Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
  • Pinch Chilli Flakes
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Puree
  • 100 ml Red Wine
  • 400 g Chopped Tomatoes
  • 500 ml Beef Stock
  • 1 Courgette – Finely Diced
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Bay Leaf


  1. Heat the oil gently over a medium heat in a large frying pan or cast iron pot.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and carrots with a pinch of salt and pepper and fry for 10 minutes, stirring often, until soft and golden.
  3. Add the fennel, chilli and tomato puree and stir for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the red wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan well.
  5. Add the beef and courgette and mix everything together thoroughly.
  6. Pour in stock, tomatoes, thyme, bay and balsamic vinegar and stir.
  7. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, and adding a little water if it starts to dry out too much.
  8. When you are ready to serve, cook your favourite pasta to package instructions.


  • If you’d rather not use wine, use a little extra beef stock to scrape the bottom of the pan.
  • Nutritional information does not include pasta.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Inactive Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Made with Leftovers
  • Cuisine: British


  • Serving Size: 1 portion
  • Calories: 312kcal
  • Sugar: 8g
  • Sodium: 1682mg
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 6g
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 35g
  • Cholesterol: 83mg

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Any nutritional information is given as a general guide only and may not be accurate. The information is provided using an online calculator and is specific to my ingredients. Please make your own calculations if you want precise information. 

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Donna Dundas
Donna Dundas is an experienced family food blogger who has been creating easy and wholesome recipes for over 7 years. Her blog is a must-read for anyone looking for filling and delicious recipe ideas, that reduce waste and minimise stress.

2 thoughts on “Leftover Beef Ragu”

  1. As far as I understand it they call it Ragu in Bologna and everyone else calls it Bolognese acknowledging its origins.


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